SNU relaxes admission restrictionsSeoul National University, one of the nation’s top institutes, said yesterday that it will accept high school students from liberal arts programs into its engineering and medical departments from 2015 in order to foster more well-rounded talent.
Korea’s high school system is split into two tracks - liberal arts and general science - and courses in each division are based around that category. Students must choose a sequence by the 10th grade.
Until now, liberal arts students - who don’t take a science segment on the college entrance exam - have been largely banned from applying for science- and engineering-related majors.
In a departure from the current system, SNU will allow humanities students to apply for programs in the architecture and industrial engineering departments in 2014 as part of a trial run, with a plan to expand that policy to the college of medicine, veterinary and dentistry and other natural science and engineering divisions in 2015.
In 2015, 78.8 percent of applicants will be recruited based on these new cross-division rules.
Yesterday’s decision is in line with the Education Ministry’s long-term plan to remove long-established distinctions in high schools so that students can benefit from a wider range of academic disciplines.
SNU’s new admissions rules are considered a benchmark for other universities, and college-bound students, their parents, and private academies are closely watching to see how the new policy will affect school admissions.
But some education experts worry that the relaxed restriction could mean more high school students would avoid taking a math and science-oriented track.
According to the university, starting in 2015, scores on the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) will carry more weight in the student selection process.
SNU currently factors in essay tests and interviews as well as CSAT scores after narrowing down students during the admission process.
“The plan is focused on simplifying a complicated admissions process,” said the university in a statement. “The Ministry of Education now tries to keep the college entrance system as simple as possible, and this decision goes hand in hand with the ministry’s move.”
The education authority announced earlier this year that colleges will face stricter scrutiny and regulations if they widen admissions standards.
The revised policy will also include reducing the number of students accepted through the early admission program. Those students accepted through early admission will drop to 75.4 percent in 2015, from 79.9 percent now.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]